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Forum Post: Fast & Furious - the TRUTH from FORTUNE magazine - in two parts

Posted 8 years ago on June 29, 2012, 7:16 p.m. EST by bensdad (8977)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

June 27, 2012: Katherine Eban FORTUNE PART 1 -- In the annals of impossible assignments, Dave Voth's ranked high. In 2009 the federal BATF promoted Voth to lead Phoenix Group VII, tasked with stopping guns from being trafficked into Mexico's vicious drug war.

The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For years, due to Republican politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The NRA has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one.
The Phoenix area is home to 853 federally licensed firearms dealers. Billboards advertise volume discounts for multiple purchases. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns. The agents faced numerous obstacles in what they dubbed the Fast and Furious case. Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney's office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect.

On Dec. 14, 2010, In a remote stretch of Peck Canyon, Ariz., Mexican bandits attacked an elite Patrol unit and killed agent Brian Terry & left behind two semiautomatic rifles that had been purchased 11 months earlier at a Phoenix-area gun store by a Fast and Furious suspect. Ten weeks later, an ATF agent named John Dodson, whom Voth had supervised charged that his supervisors had intentionally allowed American firearms to be trafficked—a tactic known as "walking guns"—to Mexican drug cartels. Dodson claimed that supervisors repeatedly ordered him not to seize weapons because they wanted to track the guns into the hands of criminal ringleaders. The program showed internal e-mails from Voth, which purportedly revealed agents locked in a dispute over the deadly strategy. The story has become a fixture on Fox News and has prompted repeated congressional hearings—with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testifying multiple times & 7000 pages turned over. They have refused to interview any Bush administration officials who started the program.

On June 20, in a day of political brinkmanship, Issa's committee voted along party lines, 23 to 17, to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly failing to turn over certain subpoenaed documents, which the Justice Department contended could not be released because they related to ongoing criminal investigations and President Obama asserted executive privilege to block the release of the documents. ATF and Justice Department officials have agreed that the ATF purposefully chose not to interdict guns it lawfully could have seized. Holder testified in December that "the use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable, and it must never happen again."

Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic.
But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic.
They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case.

After the murder of agent Terry, Dodson made complaints that were then amplified by right-wing bloggers. Rep. Issa and other politicians then seized those elements to score points against the Obama administration.

"Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false," says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation unit
who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa's committee.
The ATF's accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn't actually exist.

continuation: FORTUNE – PART 2



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[-] 2 points by ericweiss (575) 8 years ago

Dodson hates his boss Voth and lied about "gun walking"
in fact , Dodson "walked guns" using ATF money - nothing to do with fast and furious - against Voth's wishes - to Fernandez who later pled guilty to gun charges.
The other dimension of the problem is not the ATF - it is the fear instilled in the ATF that if they stop a "legal" purchase -
the agents will be hauled before congress by the NRA stooges- . AS HAD HAPPENED BEFORE

who has been arrested and pled guilty on gun charges and involved in arson? do I need to tell you ? google "issa convicted"

[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 8 years ago

Dodson & friends grew antagonistic to Voth. They were scornful of protocol, according to ATF agents. Dodson would show up to work in flip-flops. He came unprepared for operations—without safety equipment or back-up plans.
By January 2010 the agents had identified 20 suspects who had paid some $350,000 in cash for more than 650 guns. In a meeting on Jan. 5, 2010, Emory Hurley, the assistant U.S. Attorney in Phoenix overseeing the Fast and Furious case, told the agents they lacked probable cause for arrests, according to ATF records. Hurley's judgment reflected accepted policy at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona. It was nearly impossible in Arizona to bring a case against a straw purchaser. The federal prosecutors there did not consider the purchase of a huge volume of guns, or their handoff to a third party, sufficient evidence to seize them.

Ten days after the meeting with Hurley, a Saturday, Jaime Avila, a transient, admitted methamphetamine user, bought three WASR-10 rifles at the Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Ariz. The next day, a helpful Lone Wolf employee faxed Avila's purchase form to ATF to flag the suspicious activity. It was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, so the agents didn't receive the fax until Tuesday, according to a contemporaneous case report. By that time, the legally purchased guns had been gone for three days. The agents had never seen the weapons and had no chance to seize them. But they entered the serial numbers into their gun database. Two of these were later recovered at Brian Terry's murder scene.

Phoenix-based ATF agents became so frustrated by prosecutors' intransigence that, in a highly unusual move, they began bringing big cases to the state attorney general's office instead. Terry Goddard, Arizona's Attorney General from 2003 to 2011, says of federal prosecutors, "They demanded that every i be dotted, every t be crossed, and after a while, it got to be nonsensical."

Prosecutors repeatedly rebuffed Voth's requests. After examining one suspect's garbage, agents learned he was on food stamps yet had plunked down more than $300,000 for 476 firearms in six months. Voth asked if the ATF could arrest him for fraudulently accepting public assistance when he was spending such huge sums. Prosecutor Hurley said no.

Voth returned to Phoenix fully expecting his team to unite for the work that lay ahead. But instead he found a minor mutiny—over the schedule for the wiretapping, which needed to be monitored around the clock. Dodson didn't want to work weekends. But Voth's so-called "schism e-mail" would live in infamy. Today it is held up as proof that the group was desperately divided over the tactic of gun walking and that Voth belittled those who opposed it. But there is no documentary evidence that agents Dodson, Casa, or Alt complained to their supervisors about the alleged gun walking, had confrontations about it, or were retaliated against because of their complaints, as they all later claimed.

How is it possible to deduce that? Because Dodson then proceeded to walk guns intentionally, with Casa and Alt's help. On April 13, 2010, one month after Voth wrote his schism e-mail, Dodson opened a case into a suspected gun trafficker named Isaiah Fernandez. Dodson had directed a cooperating straw purchaser to give three guns to Fernandez and had taped their conversations without a prosecutor's approval. It was the first time Voth learned that Dodson intended to walk guns. Voth says he refused to approve the plan and instead consulted his supervisor, who asked for a proposal from Dodson in writing. Dodson then drafted one, which Voth forwarded to his supervisor, who approved it on May 28.
On June 1, Dodson used $2,500 in ATF funds to purchase six AK Draco pistols from local gun dealers, and gave these to Fernandez, who reimbursed him and gave him $700 for his efforts. Two days later, according to case records, Dodson—who would later testify that in his previous experience, "if even one [gun] got away from us, nobody went home until we found it"—left on a scheduled vacation without interdicting the guns.

On Feb. 4, 2011, the Justice Department sent a letter to Sen. Grassley saying that the allegations of gun walking in Fast and Furious were false and that ATF always tried to interdict weapons. A month later, Grassley countered with what appeared to be slam-dunk proof that ATF had indeed walked guns. Grassley wrote, attaching damning case reports that he contended "proved that ATF allowed guns to 'walk.'" The case and agent names were redacted, but the reports were not from Fast and Furious. They came entirely from Dodson's Fernandez case.

The agents had sent prosecutors 20 names for immediate indictment, Jaime Avila's among them. His purchase of the three WASR-10s were listed among his criminal acts. On Aug. 17, 2010, ATF agents met in Phoenix with prosecutors, including U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. According to two people present, the ATF presented detailed evidence, including the fact that their suspects had purchased almost 2,000 guns, and pushed for indictments. A month later, on Sept. 17, an ATF team—this time including ATF director Kenneth Melson—met with prosecutors again and again pushed for action. But as weeks and then months passed, prosecutors did not issue indictments. Only when Terry, the U.S. Border Patrol agent, was murdered in December 2010 did the prosecutors act. Voth's agents arrested Avila within 24 hours of Terry's death. Avila has since pleaded guilty to dealing guns without a license.

Little more than a week after Terry's murder, a small item about the possible connection between his death and the Fast and Furious case appeared on a website, CleanUpATF.org - the site was the work of a disgruntled ATF agent-turned-whistleblower, Vince Cefalu, who is suing the bureau for alleged mistreatment in an unrelated case. It had also attracted gun-rights activists loosely organized around a blog called the Sipsey Street Irregulars, run by a former militia member, Mike Vanderboegh, who has advocated armed insurrection against the U.S. government. It was an incendiary combination: the disgruntled ATF agents wanted to punish and reform the bureau; the gun-rights activists wanted to disable it.

Dodson met with two senior ATF supervisors. Dodson was vague but claimed that Voth had always "treated him like shit" and that it "felt good" to speak with someone outside ATF. Dodson appeared on the CBS Evening News a week later. As Voth watched the program from his living room, he says, he wanted to vomit. He saw sentences from his "schism" e-mail reproduced on the TV screen. But CBS didn't quote the portions of Voth's e-mail that described how the group was divided by "petty arguing" and "adolescent behavior." Instead, CBS claimed the schism had been caused by opposition to gun walking (such alleged opposition is not discussed anywhere in the e-mail, which is below). CBS asserted that Dodson and others had protested the tactic "over and over," and then quoted portions of Voth's e-mail in a way that left the impression that gun walking was endorsed at headquarters. CBS contacted the ATF (but not Voth directly). The result was a report that incorrectly painted Voth as zealously promoting gun walking.

The ATF's office of operations security investigated numerous threats to Voth. A confidential report on March 29, 2011, concluded, "ATF 'insiders' are the number one threat to Voth and his family." The report cited "at least six individuals," whom it did not name, who had "personal agendas to undermine the credibility of ATF supervisors and members of management as retribution." The report cited the two blogs and concluded that "the malicious intent of insiders" had led directly to Voth's becoming the target of a "nation-wide…libel campaign."

Politicians soon got involved, and the situation grew worse for the ATF. In June, Republican staffers for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee released a joint report that leaned heavily on interviews with Dodson, Casa, and Alt and identified Voth as a central figure in the scandal. It quoted Dodson describing Voth as "giddy" over the slaughter in Mexico—Voth says he was deeply upset by the violence—but didn't reflect Voth's perspective. The report was released two weeks before Voth was scheduled to be questioned for the first time by congressional investigators.

New facts are still coming to light—and will likely continue to do so with the Justice Department inspector general's report expected in coming months. Among the discoveries: Fast and Furious' top suspects—Sinaloa Cartel operatives and Mexican nationals who were providing the money, ordering the guns, and directing the recruitment of the straw purchasers—turned out to be FBI informants who were receiving money from the FBI. That came as news to the ATF agents in Group VII.

Issa has alleged on Fox News that Fast and Furious is part of a liberal conspiracy to restrict gun rights: "Very clearly, [the ATF] made a crisis and they are using this crisis to somehow take away or limit people's Second Amendment rights." (Issa has a personal history on this issue: In 1972, at age 19, he was arrested for having a concealed, loaded .25-caliber automatic in his car; he ultimately pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered gun.) Issa was also involved in an arson.

Issa's claim that the ATF is using the Fast and Furious scandal to limit gun rights seems, to put it charitably, far-fetched. Meanwhile, Issa and other lawmakers say they want ATF to stanch the deadly tide of guns, widely implicated in the killing of 47,000 Mexicans in the drug-war violence of the past five years. But the public bludgeoning of the ATF has had the opposite effect. From 2010, when Congress began investigating, to 2011, gun seizures by Group VII and the ATF's three other groups in Phoenix dropped by more than 90%.

[-] 1 points by JS93 (-321) 8 years ago

I wonder what Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would think of the seemingly endless parade of RW Operatives regularly appearing on a blatantly RW Network (Fox Lies) freely spewing RW propaganda without disclaimer, notifications or FCC complaints, as if it were completely normal, not in some tin horn dictatorship, but on the open airwaves of the United States of America?


Call it the Boiling Frog, the Big Lie, insidious corporatization, mass hypnosis, Big Brother, Shock Doctrine, or any other god damn thing you like. I call it fucking Bull Shit!! And I can't believe we stand around and act like there is nothing we can do. Of course after the 8 miserable years of Cheney-Bush (will they ever be over?), we're all a little dazed.

Piping hot torches and needle sharp pitch forks are available at the concession stand for your enjoyment NOW!!

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 8 years ago

take a look at what cronkite was saying about vietnam in 1962 - he gets credit for saying what he thinks in 1969 but a bit late don't you think


[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 8 years ago

To expand your well said “point” in a slightly different direction:
Regarding the 1% and their media stooges: To paraphrase a line from the movie Terminator “Listen, and understand. That corporation is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.” It was made to make profits and making profits is what it does.”
I guess that since I’ve been “here” for decades, I go the the next level – down – to the lemmings that BELIEVE their BS. Obviously hitler & goebbels would not have succeeded without millions of german lemmings. So well trained by their political and especially religious leaders to believe and obey. America has been brainwashed for decades. We need to wake up.

pat robertson, jerry fallwell, ronnie, grover, rush, david, charles, alec
there are dozens more……

After WWII, an American author went to Germany to interview “the man in the street” to write about how could a modern, educated society be taken over by the insanity of facisim. The answer was “SLOWLY”.

The cornerstone to their power is flooding politics with their money.

Check out : http://corporationsarenotpeople.com

[-] 0 points by JS93 (-321) 8 years ago

PM me

[-] -2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

Why are you relying on some msm crap like Fortune?

Here the truth- we got caught selling other country weapons. Like we always do. Same corrupted shit as usual.

[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 8 years ago

your rely on what to prove "we" are selling weapons to another country in this matter? who is "we"? and who is NOT msm? fox and the lemmings ?

please keep providing material - my garden needs more fetilizer

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

see reply below

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 8 years ago

Fucking asshole - nothing will change with-out the full participation of the people - not here - not world wide.

Advocate for positive change by all of the people or go stick your head back - up your ass.

[-] 2 points by JS93 (-321) 8 years ago

After the pitch forks and torches, VOTE!!!!

[-] -1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

Had a few drinks tonight DKA?

All this fabrication of stories on "what really happened" is useless. We were selling weapons as usual, and if one didnt kill an American, this story wouldnt be a story.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 8 years ago

WTF does that have to do with reclaiming our government our country our world.

SFB this is the final confrontation - which side are you on?

[-] -2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

What does this political post, which has gone down the usual l vs r path, have to do with corrupted banking and money in politics?

Im on your side with some things, not with others. Everything doesnt need a line drawn in the sand....

Coronas or Heinekins? I like Coronas.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 8 years ago

You are a false flag and you are quite inept.

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

You wouldnt know a falso flag if the Gulf of Tonkin bit you in your own ass.

[-] 1 points by JS93 (-321) 8 years ago

How many died in Cheney-Bush's bogus wars, sparky? How many died in just Shock and Awe? What about Pat Tillman? Hmmm?

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

I was against those as well. It is shameful how many of you were too, and now dont care. It just goes to show that party loyalty trumps saving lives, with many people.

[-] 1 points by JS93 (-321) 8 years ago

Volume, honey. Ask a woman!

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

Whatever you need to tell yourself to remain in your comfort zone...